Here’s part 2 of my lockdown cooking ideas for more food inspiration during coronavirus time and otherwise.
I’m back with another 14 lockdown lunch ideas, because making good food is worth taking the time for, even more so in times of crisis. There’s a reason the concept of comfort food exists, but it doesn’t need to be all sugar and grease to hit the spot, trust me. A good home-cooked meal can be both healthy and comforting, so I’m sharing my cooking ideas to inspire you to give cooking a go if you haven’t already. If cooking is absolutely not your thing though, then come check out my other blog post with ideas on what to do during lockdown.
Whipping up a proper meal doesn’t only yield tasty results, but also keeps your mind occupied while you’re cooking and can serve to release stress and make you focus on something other than your current issues (provided of course, that your issues are not lack of food and awful money struggles, which I wouldn’t wish on anyone). That said, the ingredients I use are usually not expensive and I am a big proponent of shopping at the close-to-expired section of the supermarket to save a bit of money. Cooking your food at home is also much cheaper than getting it delivered or buying ready-made meals, so there’s really no good excuse not to. 🙂 And now, let’s talk about the food and pick up the cooking ideas where we left off with part 1:
#1: Veal steaks with bread dumplings, buckwheat and sunflower seed tempeh with beetroots, dandelion salad with eggs and cream cheese with horseradish
The first meal of this series was a super homey one with natural veal steaks with a bit of black pepper, bread dumplings (discussed in detail here), dandelion salad with hard-boiled eggs and beetroots with tempeh. Tempeh is essentially a fermented bean patty and the one we had here was made of buckwheat and sunflower seeds (Slovenians, I got it here and I love these guys). I made it pan-fried with beetroot chunks as a side dish, but it can be used in other ways too. Also, if dandelion grows in your vicinty, now it the perfect time to go dandelion picking and use the leaves in a salad, it’s the best (more about dandelion salad in pt. 1)!
#2: Sourdough buckwheat pizza with savoy cabbage-cashews pesto, garlic, fresh oregano, goat cheese ricotta, mozzarella and savoy cabbage leaves
Like many others I also decided to try and grow my first sourdough starter during lockdown and I used it to make pizza. My first sourdough didn’t rise as much as it should have, because I was impatient and didn’t leave it for long enough + I used half buckwheat flour, which is known for being heavy and not rising. However, the pizza still turned out pretty awesome, although I tried a slightly different approach and made “white” pizza instead of the regular one with tomatoes.
It started with the lack of pizza ingredients, but then my creative cooking brain kicked in and I decided to make a savoy cabbage (similar to kale) pizza. I used homemade pesto made with savoy cabbage, cashews, salt, pepper and olive oil processed in a blender as a base instead of the usual tomato sauce, added huge amounts of chopped garlic and fresh oregano, topped with mozzarella cheese, larger pieces of savoy cabbage, chilli flakes and homemade goat ricotta. It might sound like an odd combination, but trust me, the flavours really come together and this pizza is one of those cooking ideas I’ll keep coming back to for sure.
#3: Mixed salad plate with corn salad, boiled eggs, pickled cheese, tomato-tuna salad, cucumber salad, millet porridge and sweet potato salad, asparagus soup and blueberry pie for dessert
If you’ve been reading my food posts you might have noticed there are lots of salads allover the place. I love salad and I’m a firm believer that you can make a decent meal out of a good mixed salad plate, so this was one of those. We started with asparagus cream soup, because we had leftover asparagus spear ends from a meal in pt. 1 and wasting food is not my thing (here are some ideas on how to use up all your food leftovers) and then we had the salad.
This one consisted of a base corn salad with pumpkin seed oil and apple cider vinegar, hard-boiled egg, oil-pickled cheese, cucumber salad with leftover radish leaf pesto dressing (pesto making discussion here), tomatoes with spring onions, tuna and balsamic vinegar, and some millet porridge with sweet potato chunks and herb yoghurt dressing. It ended up being quite the filling meal, so maybe I should’ve limited the number of the side salads in the salad, but it was just so good. Fun fact, we call corn salad motovilec in Slovenian, which literally translates to someone who is awkward with their movements, because the little salad bits with all their leaves tend to fly around when you try to shove them in your mouth. 🙂
#4: Calf tail stew with a) baked polenta b) added peas and potatoes with salad
I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen a calf tail before, but I swear it looks just like the face hugger alien from the Alien movie, hence the first photo here. It is also great in stews, so we made one. Well, actually my boyfriend was in charge here and he made an old school boil-for-more-than-4-hours stew with onions, carrots, celery root, savoury, parsley etc. and we ate it for 2 days. The first day we had baked polenta (boiled cornmeal) as a side and the second day we added peas and potatoes to make it a bit different. We also had our regular lettuce salad to go with it on the second day and some of the stew ended up in the fridge for later.
#5: Cauliflower steak with oven-baked savoy cabbage leaves and rice with carrots, chilli peppers, dill, garlic and lime, with Swedish coffee mousse for dessert
This next one was me trying something new: a cauliflower “steak”. I got the cooking idea from my friend’s cooking blog on Instagram and it’s actually surprisingly good + it gives you a new perspective on cauliflower. Personally I’m not a fan of vegetarian steak substitutes or things that want to be a steak, but this is essentially just a thick piece of cauliflower. It can be the centre of your meal if you aren’t feeling like eating an actual steak, but it would also work as a side. The point is, it’s different and it’s awesome!
The idea is simple, you cut a 3 cm thick piece of cauliflower (or two) right from the middle of the head, slather it with olive oil and spices (I used nutmeg and salt, while the original recipe calls for garam masala) and let it roast in a pan on both sides until golden brown. Then you add a cup of soup stock and stick the pan in the oven at 160°C to thoroughly cook the cauliflower and leave it until the soup stock has evaporated. The resulting cauliflower steak is still firm, but tender, and has lots of extra flavour from the soup stock, so really, give it a go. 🙂
I made it with oven-baked outer savoy cabbage leaf chips with olive oil and chilli flakes (see here) and roasted brown rice with garlic, jalapeno chillies, carrots, dill and lime juice. I roasted the rice in a pan with oil before boiling it and pan-fried the vegetables in a bit of olive oil before adding the cooked rice. I’d used the lime juice for something else and I only had a bit left, so I added the squeezed lime halves directly into the pan and let it saute with the rice. I’m quite horrible when it comes to making rice, unless it’s a risotto, because I tend to overcook it every time, so I was super happy when this one came out a wonderfully fresh, subtly lime-tasting dry rice as intended – this just might be my new favourite rice recipe.
I also attempted and succeed in making Swedish coffee-chocolate mousse and as you can see on the last photo it actually had a proper mousse texture. The recipe for it came from this Swedish cookbook and unfortunately I haven’t been able to find a similar one online.
#6: Best spaghetti ever with creamy eggs, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese with salad
The next day was pasta day and another cooking revelation: I made quite possibly the best pasta ever! 🙂 My best pasta ever was spaghetti with olive oil, parmesan cheese, tomato, garlic, eggs, salt, chilli flakes and parsley. Simple, right? I managed to catch the exact temperature for delicious, creamy eggs and it was heavenly.
Here’s the recipe: first roast the garlic in olive oil on a pan, add salt and chopped fresh tomato when the garlic turns brown (I used only 1 tomato and I don’t recommend using more for 2 people, because it’s not meant to be a tomato sauce). In the meantime, cook the spaghetti and whisk 2 eggs with a bit of salt, chilli flakes to taste and fresh parsley. When the spaghetti are done, transfer them into the pan with the garlic and oil, add the egg mix and lots of grated parmesan and stir. Cook on very low heat for a few minutes, as if you were making spaghetti carbonara, to prevent your eggs from overcooking and turning into scrambled eggs. You’re aiming for the creamy carbonara egg consistency, not the yellow flaky egg.
#7: Georgian Adjaruli khachapuri with cooked broccoli, veal steaks and salad
Anyone who’s ever read anything on my blog probably knows I love cheese by now. When my boyfriend and I were travelling around Georgia, we can across one of their local foods called the Adjaruli (Adjarian) khachapuri (see in my post here), which is essentially a bread boat filled with cheese, butter and egg. I fell in love with it and have wanted to eat it again ever since then, so I figured I’d try to make it at home using this recipe.
The original version is made with young Georgian cow cheese, which we don’t have here, so I tried to substitute it with a mixture of mozzarella and skuta (Slovenian curd cheese), which worked relatively well. I think I succeeded in my first attempt, although I later noticed that the original is supposed to have a thicker bread crust around the cheese. The khachapuri is so awesome because you put the bread and butter directly into molten cheese and let it cook within the hot bread boat, but mine were a bit shallow so I put it in the oven with the egg for an extra minute or so. Even though the khachapuri is supposed to be eaten by itself, I paired it with cooked broccoli seasoned with salt and olive oil, salad with radishes, tomatoes and lettuce, and veal steaks with onions. We got really good veal delivered from a farm a week earlier and the flank steaks were amazing even non-marinated.
#8: Spicy sausage with prebranac (Balkan baked beans), roasted bell peppers and salsas
Next up we had a Balkan classic: prebranac, Serbian oven-baked beans and spicy sausages. Normally this would be an outdoor grill meal accompanied by šopska salad, but we didn’t have everything at home so I settled for roasted bell peppers, two of my fermented salsas and a sour cream dip with fresh chives.
I got the Yugoslavian national army (JNA) cookbook a few years ago, so of course I made the proper prebranac according to the recipe. You’d think that a nostalgic army cookbook from a bit before my time would be an intriguing, but ultimately rarely used thing, but this little red book is actually surprisingly good. It has all the classic Balkan meals, including fancier food cooking ideas that the soldiers never saw, and it has all the quantities given per person, which is awesome when cooking for a larger group of people.
#9: Skyrim food day: apple-cabbage stew with honey nut treats and the Nord water of life
I got the Elder Scrolls cookbook for Christmas from one of my friends and I finally had the time to make something during lockdown. The Elder Scrolls are my favourite video game franchise and the cookbook is honestly amazing. The photos are gorgeous, the accompanying text is just the right amount of geek and the recipes feature all the in-game staples. What’s even better is that the recipes are actually a bit outlandish, using regular ingredients in a somewhat unexpected, but still tasty way. Also, the book has an entire section devoted to alcohol, with recipes for cocktails, infused spirits and even mead. We tried out the Nord Water of life after our meal, which is basically vodka with dill, caraway, fennel seeds and juniper berries and I can tell you it wasn’t bad!
Due to my limited palette of food ingredients I settled on making apple cabbage stew, a simple Skyrim classic with lots of thyme, and honey nut treats. They’re basically little balls of blended nuts, oatmeal and dried fruits on a skewer with a bit of honey and cinnamon. I’m not a big fan of honey, so I used a less than in the recipe, but they still stuck together quite well and looked like little poop balls because I used dried plums. Nonetheless, they tasted amazing and were super filling, so I’m planning to make granola bars using this recipe.
#10: Wild garlic wide noodles with black radish, chives and parmesan cream sauce
Then it was pasta time again! We had wide wild garlic noodles, which are one of the best things ever that occasionally pops up in our local supermarket chain (Lidl to be precise). My boyfriend loves black radish, so I tried something new inspired by a healthy cookbook one of our neighbours was giving away as part of a promotion. The book said to saute the black radish on a bit of butter, then add some chives and grated pecorino cheese, but that sounded a bit too healthy and dry for me, so I added some cooking cream, black pepper and way more chives. I used parmesan instead of pecorino and was honestly surprised by how well the sauce turned out. Sauteed black radish has a somewhat milder flavour that raw black radish, which went really well with the chives and cream, so I really recommend you to give this one a go (works with regular pasta too).
#11: My grandmother’s savoy cabbage potato mash with bacon and onions
Next up we had one of my childhood classics, made by my grandmother’s recipe. She was the only person who made savoy cabbage/kale really taste good for me (I’ll eat anything as I’m not picky, but there’s a big difference between edible, ok and actually good). The recipe is quite simple, all you need to do is cook the savoy cabbage leaves in a bit of water after removing the steps (don’t toss them out, save them for soup later!) and saute with some boiled potatoes. She didn’t use any special herbs or spices, just a bit of salt, pepper and a couple of pieces of bacon. Somehow the potato absorbs the bitter savoy cabbage taste and makes it taste amazing after you mash it together.
She usually served it with beef steaks in tomato or pepper sauce, but I made it with bacon and onions this time. If you read pt. 1 of this lockdown lunches series, you might have noticed we had a similar kale-potato mash the first day, but it wasn’t made in the same way, because we didn’t have bacon and just cooked it all together without waiting and sauteing.
#12: An everything-in-the-fridge spring soup with greens and rice noodles
This one is what we had on Easter Saturday while preparing all the Easter foods that I’ve already described in detail in my Easter post. It was literally what the title says, a very fresh spring soup, mostly made of everything we had left in the fridge that needed to be eaten. For this soup that were onions, leek greens, garlic, leftover savoy cabbage stems from the previous meal, cauliflower greens (the outer leaves and stems around the actual cauliflower head), radish leaves, leftover celery root from quick pickling and parsley root and leaves.I also added lots of dill and safflower, as well as one of my scrap soup stocks for extra flavour and rice noodles.
I like to keep all the veggie parts that most people would throw out, because they’re food and actually taste amazing in soups like these. If you add the right herbs and spices and roast the vegetables on butter first, a random soup becomes a masterpiece. It’s cheap, it’s easy to make, healthy and delicious + if you add some noodles, beans or grains it will be a filling one pot meal that even my boyfriend was satisfied with (these bowls are actually quite large).
#13: Sourdough pancakes filled with fresh herbs and curd cheese, leftover Easter ham, avocado and roasted bell peppers
This next one was a fairly improvised post-Easter meal. We had leftover Easter ham and both of us were craving something a bit healthier and more vegetable-ish than the previous meals during Easter. I decided to try sourdough pancakes made of white flour and filled with fresh herbs and skuta (Slovenian curd cheese), which was leftover from when I made potica (Slovenian festive nut roll thingy). I used garlic and onion greens, parsley, thyme, coriander and watercress that you can see on the second photo and they all came from our little potted plant herb garden. I’m proud to say that we’re currently growing about 0.5% of our daily calories with these herbs. 🙂
Besides the ham we also had half an avocado each, because it was just ripe enough, some roasted bell peppers and an assortment of my fermented and quick pickled creations: quick pickled celery root, fermented cilantro lime chilli salsa and fermented horseradish mustard I’d made for Easter.
#14: Chickpea curry with rice and blueberry sesame lemon glazed muffins for dessert
The last one for now was a hearty chickpea curry. Curries are quite adaptable, relatively healthy and pretty simple to make, unless you’re going for a specific, authentic Indian recipe. As long as you have some vegetables, basic spices and something fatty, preferably coconut milk, you can whip up a spicy bowl of awesomeness and they work great as take-to-work lunches too. This one was made with onions, cauliflower greens, garlic, fresh ginger, tomatoes, chickpea, turmeric, curry powder and served with brown rice. I didn’t have coconut milk, so I used cooking cream and it worked about the same, with slightly less flavour. What I love about curries is the wholesome, warm feeling that blossoms in your stomach because of all the spices and they’re perfect for a rainy day, which it was that day.
I also made muffins, because we had leftover blueberry sugar juice from the blueberry pie I mentioned earlier. I figured I’d make it interesting by adding sesame seeds and apparently blueberries and sesame work great together. The result was good, if a bit boring without any actual blueberries, so I gave them a lemon sugar glaze on top and then they we’re perfect.
And thus we’ve made it to the end of the second batch of lockdown cooking ideas! I hope you liked them and that they’ve inspired you to spend some time in the kitchen and cook your way through this difficult time. Remember to add some regular exercise to the mix, otherwise they might have to roll you through the door when the Covid-19 crisis is over. 🙂
Exercise is another great and extremely important stress reliever, so I encourage you to take at least 15-30 minutes per day to move in whichever way you prefer (I like these two for free home workout videos). Think of it as an investment in your body for health and long-term joint mobility + if you come out of lockdown with a slightly shapelier body, then where’s the harm, right?
Coronawise things are going in pretty well Slovenia, but there will likely be a part 3 of this lockdown lunch post series as well, because it seems like I’ll be working from home for a bit longer. I do hope that part 3 won’t be from actual lockdown anymore though.
As always, feel free to ask me about any specifics regarding the dishes in this post and share your lockdown lunch ideas with me in the comments. 🙂 Also, check out the #cookathome hashtag for more cooking ideas, people out there are cooking up some pretty amazing things.
P.S.: Somehow we still haven’t gained any extra weight.